Roger and his five relatives live in this small one-room apartment in San Francisco.
SAN FRANCISCO – – Martin, a 40-year-old day laborer in San Francisco, has barely worked in the past two months. He hasn’t worked at all for the past two weeks.
He was asked to leave the shelter he was staying in as there is only room for people infected with COVID-19.
So he took to the streets to sleep and to ask for work.
His usual routine is to wake up at 6:30 a.m., talk to previous employers over wifi and ask if they need his manual skills, and wait for hours on the corner with others like him in the hope that someone will meet him for painting walls. Moving furniture or working on a construction project. In his spare time, he walks around the neighborhood helping people learn best practices for preventing the virus from spreading and educating the community about eviction rights.
In addition, Martin has just learned that he has diabetes.
“I’m feeling very bad mentally,” said Martin, who asked that his full name not be used in Spanish through an interpreter. “I’m not doing well. I am not fulfilling my obligations to support my family.”
Hoping at least to get a good night’s sleep, Martin recently applied in San Francisco for a new program called the High Risk Community Housing Program.
The program is temporarily offering free hotel rooms to key San Francisco employees who live in neighborhoods with higher COVID-19 rates.
Last week, 10 people moved into the 1,000 available rooms, said supervisor Hillary Ronen, who urged the city to open more hotel rooms to the homeless and the needy.
Those rooms opened, she said, when the city realized they weren’t filled with first responders as originally planned. Instead of leaving them empty, the program for people at high risk was launched shortly after a UCSF study that indicated that Latinos in the mission district were disproportionately affected by coronavirus.
The study said tight living spaces were a factor in higher levels of the coronavirus. Many Latinos also have jobs that tend to put them in direct contact with others, which increases the chances of exposure to the virus.
Roger, who also asked that his full name not be used, lives in such close quarters.
In an interview, the 49-year-old artisan said he lived in a tiny room with five relatives: his grandmother, son, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law and 9-year-old grandson on Church Street.
“I have severe depression,” he said in Spanish through an interpreter. “Economically, I am terribly. And overall it is very stressful to live.”
His family has always lived in this small apartment. But before the coronavirus, they would all leave home for the day and only come back at night.
Now everyone is together and on top of each other around the clock.
To alleviate what he called “tortuous days”, he and his relatives decided to stay up until 2:00 am so that they can sleep as late as possible and the days don’t seem so endless. As for sleep, the family sleeps on couches and air mattresses packed in their room.
He and his family members have all looked for work with no luck. Your $ 2,200 per month rent is due on Monday.
He would very much like to apply for a hotel room, not only to get some distance and space from his relatives, but to avoid the possible spread of the deadly disease.
“I feel stuck,” he said. “I would love to get out of this room.”
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED: The application to request HRCH hotel accommodation is now available online.
San Francisco residents who work outside the home can apply themselves or a vulnerable household member for whom they want to reduce exposure to COVID-19 because the person is 60 years or older or already has an illness. Ask? Email HRCH@sfgov.org
If you are interested in hiring a member of the San Francisco Day Labor Program and Women’s Collective, call 415-252-5375. Further information on the programs can be found here. You can also donate to Fighting for our Workers. You can also email the dispatcher Louis Legowsky to the program at sfdlp @ 3358 @ gmail.com if you want to hire a worker.
Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez